New technology from WEFTEC 2019 shows innovations both large- and small-scale

WEFTEC 2019 was a place in which water and wastewater treatment innovators had the opportunity to connect and share with each other how to better conserve, treat and reuse the precious resource. Exhibitors, press and attendees got to see first-hand what the leading trends and future technology for wastewater treatment will be in the coming year.

Circling trends at this year’s exhibition included optimising reuse capacities, ending wasted water and surpassing regulatory requirements. While there, Water Technology staff had a chance to sit down and speak to a few of the hundreds of exhibiting companies.

The industry is far from completing the integration of industrial internet of things (IIoT) software and hardware in its processes. Some companies like General Electric (GE) Digital are targeting machine operators because they are the ones in contact with each specific process. GE Digital upgraded and showcased its iFix 6.0, which offers HMI/SCADA enhancements, like an OPC UA server and alarm shelving.

“SCADA doesn’t seem to get the attention like some cloud-based analytics, but that data is generally produced by the SCADA system,” said Scott Duhaime, senior product manager of GE Digital. “Some of the things we’re trying to work on is reducing the time it takes an integrator to deploy our systems. On the operator side, we’re actually focused on high-performance HMI, an ISA101 standard.”

Duhaime talked about how GE Digital is working to simplify the HMI visualisation with its enhanced iFix system. This will be particularly helpful with the issue of an aging workforce and decreasing the time it takes to train new operators.

While the industry is in the middle of the IIoT convergence, some smaller-sized innovations are proving to pack a large punch when it comes to overall efficiency in water and wastewater treatment plants.

PowerTech Water showcased its Capacitive Coagulation (CapCo) technology, which is designed to remove heavy metal from wastewater with no sludge by-product. An electrochemical filter uses carbon electrode technology to selectively filter metals.

“We’re turning a variety of metals into metal rust, which is then filtered out inside of our cartridge,” said Cameron Lippert, CEO of PowerTech Water. CapCo can be used in the battery manufacturing, food and beverage, oil and gas and automotive industries.

Geared toward food and beverage wastewater treatment is Aquacycl’s BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT). This system selects and controls natural bacteria to accelerate treatment rate. Anaerobic biofilms degrade sludge and microbes convert incoming waste into electrons, protons and CO2. The electrons are then transferred to the anode electrode, and the microbes use the anode surface to breathe.

Some trends focused on filtration, separation and aeration on a smaller scale — sometimes narrowing it down to the molecular level — to create ultrapure water or to allow long-term aeration.

Another interesting technology from this year’s exhibition came from Cerahelix. This company developed the PicoHelix, a ceramic membrane filter for separation on the molecular level, by using DNA to construct the membrane. A DNA ceramic membrane is coated onto the surface of a porous ceramic filter. Heat then removes DNA, leaving behind a low fouling surface capable of separating dissolved solids in water.

Moleaer, another exhibiting company at WEFTEC, showcased its nanobubble technology. The company’s nanobubble generators allow gas bubbles to remain suspended in water for months, allowing water column aeration, which in turn allows for an even distribution of oxygen throughout a body of water.